Regiment’s Irma mercy mission

  • Gearing up: Royal Bermuda Regiment soldiers packing away aid supplies for an imminent mission to hurricane-torn islands in the Caribbean (Photograph by Jonathan Bell)
  • Royal Bermuda Regiment soldiers prpare for deployment (Photograph by Jonathan Bell)

A detachment of Royal Bermuda Regiment soldiers is readying for a mercy mission to hurricane-devastated UK Overseas Territories in the Caribbean.

Disaster recovery experts from the RBR’s Gun and Assault Pioneers, as well as Special Constables, will join Bermuda Police Service officers and fly out to a staging post in Barbados as soon as air transport can be arranged.

Governor John Rankin and Deputy Governor Ginny Ferson surveyed preparations at Warwick Camp yesterday, where a team of 28 soldiers with two officers packed away for what Executive Officer Major Corey Smalley described as specialist post-hurricane relief.

Mr Rankin said he was proud to see Bermuda’s volunteers headed to join the UK effort, which has about 700 troops on the ground at present with some 50 police.

They embed with the 24 Commando Engineer Regiment, soldiers from the British Army’s Royal Engineers who support the elite Royal Marines 3 Commando. The British Virgin Islands, one of Bermuda’s fellow UK Overseas Territories, was hammered by Hurricane Irma, leaving at least four dead and widespread devastation in its wake. Six local police officers will head off to assist the BVI with internal security.

Anguilla and Turks and Caicos, also UK Overseas Territories, also suffered severe damage as Irma crossed the region before hitting Florida.RBR Adjutant Captain Duncan Simons said Bermuda’s soldiers would be dispatched to the territory in most need.

He added: “The contingent is ready to go as soon as airlift is secured.”

Royal Fleet Auxiliary ship Mounts Bay, which is stationed in the Caribbean and Bermuda area with hurricane relief as part of its mandate, has already unloaded tons of supplies in affected areas.

The Royal Navy flagship, HMS Ocean, which carries specialist troops from the Royal Marines and helicopters, has been redeployed from the Mediterranean and is steaming towards the Caribbean.

Anticipating tough conditions on the ground, Major Smalley said the team would go over first aid, chainsaw operation, and dealing with the media.

“The idea is to get the islands to a point in which they can start to have a little bit of normality,” he added.